Smashed windshield — how pilots deal with cracked glass

Last week it was reported that an A319 just airborne out of Chicago O’Hare had to make an emergency return to land after the flight deck windscreen was smashed by hail. Whilst images in the media portrayed a dramatic event for those on board, how serious really was the event?

Dealing with thunderstorms and severe weather is an integral part of the job of an airline pilot. In addition, dealing with non-normal events such as smashed windshields is also a key part of ensuring that all on board the aircraft are kept safe.

So how does an aircraft windshield shatter like this and how serious an event is it for the pilots?

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